The Desert Winter Thru-Hike (DWTH) is a new(er) route created by Brett Tucker (Blisterfree) that connects the Arizona Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail.
Curious? Me, too!
The route traverses the low desert landscapes of Southern Arizona and Southern California for approximately 800 miles. Of course, your exact mileage will depend on in route choices you make AND if you connect it to the AZT and the PCT.
Since we’ve thru-hiked Brett Tucker’s Grand Enchantment Trail (read: route) and his Lowest to Highest Route, he passed along the information for his new Desert Winter Thru-Hike.
In this 2024 winter, Karma and I will jump onto the Desert Winter Thru-Hike. Come along for the ride!
This post will be updated frequently in January, February, and March, so bookmark it to see our progress!
List of Contents
Desert Winter Thru-Hike Preparation
We are doing several things to prepare for the Desert Winter Thru-Hike.
1️⃣ First, we read through all the information Brett Tucker sent with the GPS tracks. He organized everything very well, but it’s a lot to get through.
2️⃣ Second, we added the GPS tracks to Gaia. Then, we downloaded offline USGS Topo and Gaia Topo maps with routing info so we could navigate in airplane mode on our phones.
3️⃣ Third, we added the paper map set to Avenza. Honestly, I don’t love the Avenza app, but it works well enough. The Desert Winter Thru-Hike needs these types of maps as well as Gaia.
4️⃣ Fourth, we went to my Mom’s house where she had dehydrated a massive drawer full of delicious plant-based meal ingredients. For a week, Karma and I took those ingredients, pieced them into two-person meals, and vacuum-sealed them.
5️⃣ Fifth, we ordered high-protein Lenny & Larry’s Cookies and other bars to mail drop or cache for ourselves. Having lived in our van for two winters in these areas we know that most of these towns don’t have good options for us.
6️⃣ Lastly, we gathered our gear and fixed anything that we needed to repair after the Grand Enchantment Trail.
Resupply: Caching Vs. Mail Drops Vs. Buying as You Go
For the Desert Winter Thru-Hike, we’ve decided to do significant caching.
Since we live in our van when we’re not hiking, caching is a good option for us as plant-based humans. Most of the DWTH towns have very limited selections. If you eat everything, you have more options and may be able to buy as you go with a mail drop here or there.
🚐 Also, we just don’t like a few of the towns having passed through them in our van. We know they exist and how to get to them if we need them. But, we’d rather stay out this time. ⛺️
Finally, figuring out caches ahead of time helps us get the best feel of the route. We look into exactly how many days of food we need in each cache and guess how hungry we’ll be. Then, we get two road trips as bookends for the hike: one to place to caches and one to grab the trash we rebury afterward.
Desert Winter Thru-Hike DAILY Posts
For the first time in years, I’m going to aim to write a short post each day. Depending on cell service, you might get a few of them at a time.
I heard that the Desert Winter Thru-Hike might have more cell phone service than other trails. From being in the van, I have a few ideas of where it will exist or where it won’t. 📲
Honestly, I’m not sure how this will go. Please, hold me accountable in the comments or over on Instagram!!! 😊
📍 Basically…BOOKMARK this post and check here for the Daily Updates.
Why We Want to Hike the DWTH
Karma and I became interested in routes after our first thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail where we went in opposite directions in 2015.
⛰️ The CDT really sparked our interest in the “choose your own adventure” hiking style. It also felt like a gateway trail to learn off-trail navigation, honed in our longer food carries, taught us how to filter some really nasty cow water, and more.
🌲 In 2016, we did the Pacific Northwest Trail had also had lots of in-route options and we absolutely LOVED the Lionshead Ridge Bushwhack.
🏜️ Then in 2017, we massively honed our off-navigation skills on a Hayduke “Trail” thru-hike in the spring followed by the Lowest to Highest Route in the fall.
While we both love a nice, maintained trail, we also both love the remote feeling of routes – even if parts of them aren’t as pretty.
🌵 We found we liked Brett Tucker’s route-making style after the L2H and the Grand Enchantment Trail in 2023.
🚐 Finally, we’ve grown to love the low desert traveling around in our van. While some people only see vast emptiness and a lack of colors, we see more.
So…we figured…why not the Desert Winter Thru-Hike? 🤷♀️
Two Final Thoughts
Overall, we’re really excited to jump on the Desert Winter Thru-Hike in 2024. 🥳
- This is a little different style of post than I’ve been doing and would love your feedback. Comments at the bottom of the post or on Instagram really make my day. Let me know what you’re enjoying, what you’d like more of, or what is just not doing it for you.
- It’s hard to step away from the amazing nomad community and store the van. However, we’re super stoked to go hike 800 miles. Sometimes you’ve got to leave the comfort behind to go on the best adventure.